LendKey Review: Affordable Loans and Lots of Options [2019]

LendKey connects you with banks and credit unions to provide private student loans, student loan refinance loans, and home improvement loans.
12/12/19 | By Christy Rakoczy
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If you need a loan, there's no shortage of options out there. You don't want to just borrow from anyone, though — it's important to find a trustworthy lender that can provide you a loan with reasonable terms.

Community banks and credit unions are often known for providing more affordable loans, but comparison shopping and finding the best loan from a local bank or credit union can be time-consuming and difficult. That's where LendKey comes in!

LendKey makes it easy and quick to find loans from community lenders. Borrowers can start this process by submitting an online application for a private student loan, refinance loan, or home improvement loan. But should you use this service if you're seeking financing? This LendKey review will help you decide.

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What is LendKey?

LendKey is a technology company, not a lender. It was created to connect borrowers to community lenders that tend to be more focused on customer service and that often offer lower interest rates or better loan terms.

LendKey was founded in 2009 with the goal of creating an innovative lending-as-a-service platform so borrowers could connect with hundreds of different banks and credit unions. Since its founding, more than 99,000 customers have been able to access more than $3 billion in loans through partner lenders.

LendKey not only helps borrowers seeking private student loans or looking to refinance existing loans, but it also provides options for borrowers looking for financing to improve their homes. And contactors can even partner with LendKey to help their customers find affordable loans to finance home projects.

Which loan products does Lendkey offer?

LendKey offers three different types of loans for would-be borrowers. These include:

  • Private student loans: Private student loans can help to finance the cost of your education after you've exhausted all of your federal student aid.
  • Student loan refinance loans: If you have existing student loans, including both private and federal loans, they can be refinanced with LendKey. There are pros and cons to refinancing your student loans. Your refinance loan could change your repayment terms and interest rate; however, you'll give up certain borrower protections by refinancing federal student debt.
  • Home improvement loans: Contractors can partner with LendKey to help their customers obtain affordable loans. Homeowners who are using an approved LendKey contractor can borrow to fund almost any type of home improvement project. These home improvement loans are a form of unsecured personal loan.

Personal loans from LendKey

While many personal loan lenders offer financing that can be used for any purpose, personal loans obtained through LendKey are designated only for home improvement. These loans can be used for just about any project you want to undertake at your home, with a few exceptions such as landscaping, putting in an above ground pool, or building a separate structure without a permanent foundation.

While LendKey provides lots of flexibility in what home improvement funds can be used for, homeowners can obtain these loans only if the contractor performing the work is on LendKey's list of approved contractors.

The good news is, these loans are unsecured and no home equity is required for homeowners looking to borrow. You will, however, need good credit and proof of sufficient income in order to get approved for a loan.

Student loans from LendKey

Many students exhaust their federal student aid and need to take out private student loans. LendKey offers these loans at an affordable rate to qualified borrowers with good credit and proof of income. Borrowers could also qualify with a cosigner if they can't meet eligibility requirements on their own.

LendKey provides private student loans with variable rates starting at 4.05% or fixed rates starting at 5.36% as of October 2019. There are no application fees, and loans can be used to pay for any eligible expenses including tuition, room and board, and other expenses related to attending school and earning your degree.

Borrowers don't need to complete the Free Application for Student Aid (FAFSA) available from the Department of Education in order to qualify for a LendKey loan — although completing the FAFSA is advisable to qualify for federal loans. For loans through LendKey, borrowers can submit a quick and simple online application to see which partner lenders will provide financing and on what terms.

Student loan refinancing from LendKey

If you already have federal or private student loans, LendKey also enables you to refinance them with a new loan. Your new loan will ideally have more favorable terms, such as a lower interest rate or a more affordable monthly payment.

When refinancing loans, though, you need to be aware that you could lose protections available only with federal student aid. If you have Direct Subsidized Loans, interest is subsidized while you're in school or if loans are in deferment — but there's no subsidized interest on refinanced loans. You also lose the chance at loan forgiveness for work in public service; have less flexibility in deferring payments or pausing payments by putting loans into forbearance; and income-driven payment plans that cap payments as a percentage of income aren't available anymore.

Refinancing private student loans has none of these downsides, though. And if you won't take advantage of federal borrower protections, refinancing federal loans might make sense — especially if you can consolidate federal and private loans to make repayment simpler since you'll only owe one lender instead of many.

If you're going to refinance, LendKey can help you explore the deals that community banks offer for affordable refinance loans. Rates start as low as 2.01% for a variable rate loan or 3.49% for a fixed-rate loan as of October 2019, and you have a choice of repayment terms ranging from five to 20 years.

You'll also pay no origination fees to secure your refinance loan through LendKey. You'll need good credit and proof of sufficient income to repay your loan, though; otherwise, you'll need a cosigner to help you qualify.

What Lendkey customers are saying

LendKey has an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau. Although the lender received just a one-star rating from customers on Better Business Bureau, there are only six reviews and several of the borrowers complain about paperwork requirements for securing a loan rather than the customer service provided once financing has been obtained.

LendKey received much better reviews on TrustPilot, where there is a larger sample size of over 100 reviews. The company has 4.5 stars on TrustPilot, with 82% of reviewing customers describing it as "excellent."

FAQs about LendKey

Is LendKey safe?

LendKey has been in business since 2009, has partnered with more than 13,000 community financial institutions, and has funded more than $3.1 billion in loans. Because of its long history and its Better Business Bureau accreditation, you can feel confident using LendKey.

LendKey doesn't provide loans, though — it just matches you with community lenders. Consider reading the customer service reviews of any lender that LendKey matches you with before completing the loan application process to make sure the lender you are dealing with has a good reputation.

Is LendKey good for student loans?

LendKey is good for students seeking private student loans or options to refinance their student loans. You can submit your information and get connected to partner lenders eager to make paying for your degree easier.

Does LendKey require a co-signer?

A cosigner is required by lenders only if you can't qualify for financing on your own based on your credit score or income. Applying with a cosigner who has better credit or who has a higher income than you do could also enable you to borrow at a more favorable rate.

Is LendKey a Sallie Mae lender?

LendKey offers student loans through partners, one of which is Sallie Mae. That means if you apply for a loan with LendKey, you may be offered one by Sallie Mae.


The final word on LendKey

If you're borrowing for school, want to refinance student debt, or are borrowing for a home improvement project done by a partner contractor, LendKey could be a good option for you. Just remember to compare the loans from LendKey's partner banks and credit unions with the financing offered by other lenders to find the best deal overall.

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Disclaimer: All rates and fees are accurate as of October 30th, 2019.

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